What to Know When Renting a House for the First Time

Moving out on your own for the first time is a big step. It can also be a confusing time, with many questions such as: what documentation is required, how much money will I need and will I need renters insurance? With a rental crisis that shows no sign of slowing and many other thorny issues such as fraudsters and scam artists it seems to be an especially daunting prospect these days. But don’t worry, we can shine a light on the top tips for renting a house for the first time to ensure your first rental experience goes as smoothly as possible.

Know How Rental Leases Work

Above all, your lease is the most important document to wrap your head around. It defines how long you’ll rent the property, how much you will pay and your basic responsibilities as a tenant.

Once a lease is signed, you’re legally bound to everything set out in it for the period of your agreement. So you must read and understand it completely. If you breach your conditions, your landlord will be within their rights to issue you with notices and eventually evict you.

Work Out Your Finances

Firstly, work out a budget that works for you and research the areas you can afford a property. Of course, as a first-time renter, you’re likely to be renting a modest property, but depending on location, costs can still be high. Remember that on top of rent, you will also need to budget for gas, electricity, broadband and TV license as well as your other personal expenses.

The latest rental report from daft.ie states that inflation in Dublin has nearly doubled from 3.4% six months ago to 6.6%, while inflation in the four other cities has more than doubled ‐ from 5% at the end of last year to 11.1% now. Meanwhile inflation outside the cities has eased back a little, from 12.2% to 11.4%.

The general rule of thumb for rent suggests not spending more than 30% of your income on rental costs each month. The reasoning behind this is that by capping your rent payment at 30% of your monthly income, you'll still have plenty of money left to cover other essential living expenses.

Know Your Rights

It’s not all about responsibility when you rent. As a tenant, you’re entitled to several basic rights. For example, you have a right to privacy, which means your landlord cannot show up at the property unannounced. Your landlord also can’t force you to pay for things like general repairs and maintenance.

Also if something you own is broken or damaged, rather than part of the property itself, you should check whether this is covered by your contents insurance, also known as renter’s insurance. You are also entitled to a certain amount of notice of the termination of your tenancy. Citizens Information covers a comprehensive list of tenants’ rights.

Your landlord is also responsible for keeping the property in good condition for you to live in. As a tenant, you are responsible for keeping the rental property clean and undamaged. If you discover any repairs which need doing or have any concerns, contact your landlord immediately.

Don’t be afraid to report repairs to your landlord, as it’s much easier and cheaper for them to fix an issue when you first notice it rather than when the issue becomes a big problem.

Beware Rental Frauds

Cases of rental fraud are on the rise in Ireland with an increase in occurrences of 30% last year. Rental Fraud occurs when tenants are tricked into paying up front fees, deposits or rent to criminals; many of whom have led victims to believe that rental properties belong to them when they don’t.

Criminals place fake adverts with properties to let (stealing photos and property details from real, unsuspecting landlords or letting agents) or respond to online requests for rental properties (which often appear on social media). To prevent Rental Fraud, tenants should research any letting agency, landlord or property before handing over any money – using the internet, review sites or phoning contacts using publically available contact details.

Posting a request for rental properties online is especially not recommended. The most important thing to do is to remain vigilant to prevent becoming a victim of fraud, you may also find information on threshold (the scheme that supports housing rights) on what to look out for and how to avoid scams.

Security Deposit

You have the right to have your deposit back if you paid one at the beginning of your tenancy. Only if there is a valid reason, such as if you have damaged the property, can your landlord or rental agent withhold the deposit. At the end of your lease, you must get in touch with your landlord and request your security deposit.

When requesting a refund of your deposit, it is better to do it in writing or via email so that you have a record of the request. You'll often receive the money within a week if you and your landlord or letting agent agree on the amount you should receive back.

If you and your landlord dispute on how much of your security deposit you should receive returned, it's a good idea to have kept good records on the state of the property. When moving in you should be provided with an inventory of everything that's provided with the property including furniture, carpets, curtains, appliances, crockery and cutlery.

Notify your landlord if you disagree with anything on the inventory as it will affect how much of your security deposit you get back at the end of the tenancy. A good tip is to take photos, ideally dated and labelled, of any items that are broken or damaged and to notify the landlord. Keep receipts for any items you've replaced, correspondence about repairs and copies of your bills.

Most disputes about deposits are over the condition of the property at the end of the tenancy. Make sure you give the property a thorough clean before you move out and leave it in the same condition as the day you arrived.

Contents Insurance for Renters

One of the most important types of protection you can buy for your rented home is contents insurance. Just like a homeowner, you probably feel a great deal of pride in where you live and a sense of responsibility for insuring your belongings against fire or theft.

Contents insurance covers the contents of your home that you own, including items such as televisions, furniture and kitchen appliances. It provides you with peace of mind in the event of any loss or damage to your home contents. See home contents insurance options provided by AIG.

If you follow these tips, your life as a new renter will be stress free. 

Related Article